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Working From Home

+ Posted by Peter Bowden

The COVID-19 pandemic has most switching to remote mode, meaning working from home. Most of us are learning it isn’t as easy as you would think. 

There’s the obvious need for the technical stuff to work — computer, Internet, printer, telephone, etc. —  but when your home and office are the same place, setting boundaries and maintaining work-life balance is crucial. I know I’ve presonally struggled with this since our team started working from home.

But also consider things like interacting with co-workers and breaks. It can actually become a little lonely in your home office. And then there’s the other side to all of this — snacking in the pajamas, family members that don’t quite understand you’re supposed to be “at work,” or there's the urge to take an afternoon nap. It’s hard — to stay in the work mode.

Here are few tips

1. Set your working hours

Define when you’re going to be at your desk. In other words set up a schedule. One idea is to block the time on your calendar for specific tasks. This can help avoid jumping between tasks without focusing on any of them.

2. Have a dedicated place for work

Sure, you could work in bed, but it’s not a really good idea. It’s best to create a dedicated workspace with the goal to set clear boundaries between your work and personal spaces. 

3. Prepare your tech

Since the COVID-19 forced many of us to work from home unexpectedly, a lot of us didn’t have time to really prepare. So here are few things that are important; realizing you may  have to make do. 

  • Fast internet
  • Access to internal company resources
  • Headphones and web camera (because you’ll most likely be required to participate in many video calls)

4. Create a morning ritual to start your workday

Your normal office routine is simple. You get up, travel to the office, and get going. Working remotely, there is no real set routine, unless you make one. With remote work, I suggest setting some structure. It’s important to follow a routine that brings you to a work mode. Do everything you would normally do before going to the office, then pause for a moment, perhaps go outside for a few minutes, then go to the workplace you’ve set up at home.

5. Set rules for people you live with

Family members may not fully understand that you have a responsibility to be productive; that you are indeed "at work". Be sure to outline for them what your work hours are and ask for some privacy.

6. Take breaks and go outside

It’s important to schedule breaks — stay away from the screen and change the scenery a bit. This means is getting up from your desk and doing something else. Don’t spend your breaks reading news on coronavirus and stock exchanges. Consider even putting your cell phone down. 

7. Over Communicate and feel connected

Under normal circumstances when at work, there’s a lot going on and a lot interaction with your team members. When working remotely, you can feel truly isolated and maybe even alone. Here’s what you can do. Check in with your colleagues. Let them know what you’re working on and ask for feedback just like you would at the office. Stay connected with your team. Find some time to chat about common interests or laugh at new memes. 

8. Make a weekly plan

On Fridays, make a plan for next week; things you want to accomplish. Our team produces a weekly report that recaps what they’ve been working on for the week just ending, as well as things they want to focus on for the upcoming week. This can provide a sense of accomplishment and create direction. It also helps identify resources needed for the week to come.

9. Don’t forget to stop working

This is important. When the work day is done, stop! Quit all work-related apps, get up from your desk and do something totally different besides work — okay, let’s be blunt about it. Shut down your computer and do something fun.

COVID-19 will pass and things will get back to normal. Following some of these ideas will help with productivity and provide work-life balance for your overall well-being.

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The Author

Peter F. Bowden, TMP

President & CEO, Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau

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